Playing it Safe

DeMatha's Harris is changing positions. Penn State is showing interest. But will he get an offer from the Nittany Lions?

When planning for college, most high school juniors have a safety school, a fallback option in case they don't get accepted into their top choice. If you're linebacker Darien Harris, however, you use being a safety to get into school.

The DeMatha Catholic High star is making a switch to safety this off-season, a move that he feels will help him get ready for the next level. Harris has had an impressive few months since his junior season ended, adding 12 pounds of muscle and yet still maintaining the speed that saw him run a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at an event two weeks ago.

“I haven't lost my speed at all,” said Harris, who is teammates with highly recruited defensive tackle Darian Cooper.

Harris is starting to generate serious interest himself, with East Carolina and Syracuse being the first major programs to offer scholarships. Rutgers was in to the school this past Wednesday to evaluate him.

Harris said that former high school teammate Lorenzo Waters, now a Scarlet Knight, was talking him up to the school. Two weeks ago, Harris hauled in his first offer from the Big Ten with Michigan State making it official. But there is another school in the Big Ten that he is interested in.

Penn State came in to DeMatha to watch Harris and several of his teammates workout last week. Harris went over to introduce himself to Nittany Lion assistant coach Larry Johnson, but he said the intro wasn't needed. Johnson already knew who he was.

“They said I'm all over their boards right now,” Harris said. “They're evaluating me and watching me on film.”

Harris isn't ready to declare any favorites or early leaders -- “this is all just starting,” he said -- but Penn State, should it offer, would mean a lot to the Maryland standout.

“It'd be humbling to get an offer from them, I really mean it,” Harris said. “The tradition and how they play. It would mean a lot, a whole lot.”

Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for questions, comments and crude remarks at and can be followed at


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